Hellfire Publishing’s very own Sharlana Williams, interviews Susan Helene Gottfried.
Sharlana: Hello, Susan! Thanks for stopping by the Herald today.
Susan: Well, thanks for having me, darling. It's always nice to sit and talk shop with you. We don't get enough opportunities to do this.
Sharlana: Please tell us a little bit about yourself. For one thing, you have a distinctive nickname.
Susan: Nickname? Sooz isn't much of a nickname...
Oh! You mean West of Mars. Yes, that's one of the reasons I picked it. In all honesty, it's where I live: West of Mars. Literally. There actually is a Mars, PA -- as you, Sharlana, know. It's ... well, East of where my life usually takes place.
One reason I chose it for my website was that I wanted West of Mars to be about more than Susan Helene Gottfried, author. I wanted it to be a spot where I had room and freedom to be supportive of other authors. Thus, for a while, I ran a publicity blog called Win a Book (we've moved it to Facebook, so come on by and post your book giveaways, or stop in to learn where you can get some freebies: http://facebook.com/WinaBook), and I've got a page set up now for my editing services. Who knows what the future will hold, but with West of Mars, I can grow and accommodate all of it.
Sharlana: I know you from our Pennsylvania writers networking organization, Pennwriters, and its yearly conference and local western PA events. Would you care to comment on the benefits of belonging to a networking organization?
Susan: I could talk for HOURS about this one, babe. Pennwriters actually does more than provide networking, which is one of its strengths. Pennwriters focuses on craft and the sharing of knowledge among fellow writers, as well. It's a group where the vast majority of the members believe and act as though we are all in this together, and the success of one of us means success for all.
One of the nice offshoots of this networking is that I've been included in three different short story anthologies. Sometimes, knowing a lot of people can lead to amazing opportunities.
Of course, it IS easy to spend all your time networking and not enough time writing, but c'mon. When you've got what I call the Writerly Birth Defect, you can write 24 hours a day and it's still not enough.
Sharlana: How did you become a published writer?
Susan: Nice distinction; I've been a writer since I started talking. A published writer, though, is another story.
Basically, I had a book -- Trevor's Song -- that was getting a consistent response from literary agents: I like it, but I can't sell it.
I sat down at the 2007 Pennwriters Conference with an agent. I'd done some research into the genre I now call Rock Fiction, and realized that books about rock stars don't sell. She confirmed that. The confirmation was reinforced by another agent at the 2011 Conference. No respect, I tell you.
The original shoot down was before Smashwords, before Kindle, before self-publishing was the way to go, and when e-book readers were almost exclusively romance/erotica readers.
Over the next year, my readers began demanding a book from me. You see, I'd been posting my short fiction online, on my blog (The Meet and Greet at West of Mars), and my readers wanted it in book form. They wanted me to put the stories in chronologic order, because they are anything BUT on my blog.
As e-publishing changed, I spoke with other agents and editors (see? That networking thing... you never know who'll be helpful!) about my book and my short fiction. They all agreed: I had the perfect project for self-publishing.
So, I went for it.
Sharlana: Why did you choose to submit to online publishers?
Susan: Basically, they were my only way of getting my books into the hands of the readers who wanted them! Oh, I made print copies, first at Lulu and now with CreateSpace, but when you can price a book at $2.99 and still make a fat profit, it's a no-brainer.
Assuming you've got the chops and the editing support to make it worthwhile.
Sharlana: Could you tell us about your latest project?
Susan: I am working on the follow-up to Trevor's Song, tentatively titled King Trevor. After that, I'll put out Demo Tapes 4. And after THAT, I have something in mind... a story about a woman who has to leave all she knows in order to find out who she really is, and what she really wants. Of course, it'll have a music bend to it.
Care to share a blurb with us?
Susan: This is rough... right off the top of my head, but here goes...
In King Trevor, our favorite bad boy rocker is dealing with the aftermath of the onstage collapse that ended Trevor's Song. There are new opportunities ahead, but first, Trevor's got to help his favorite arch-nemesis, his best friend's wife, face some ghosts of her own.
How can we buy your online content?
My books can be purchased through all the major outlets: Smashwords, Kindle, B&N, Sony, Apple, Kobo, Diesel. You can also order print copies of Trevor's Song and The Demo Tapes (Year 3) only through Amazon, Powells, B&N, and your favorite independent bookstore. I hear there's a little bookstore near us, Sharlana, that has autographed copies of Trevor's Song in stock... (that'd be Penguin Bookshop)
To read more about the books and get the buy links, check out my books page: http://westofmars.com/west-of-mars/the-books
Sharlana: Any advice for writers?
Write, write, write. And always hire an editor, even if it's not me you hire. We all need a fresh set of eyes looking out for us when we think we're done with something.
Readers, you can find Susan's blog at:
Email Susan at:
Tweet with me by following @WestofMars
Read the blog: http://westofmars.com/blog
and keep up with all the latest news via the Facebook fan page: http://facebook.com/WestofMarsFans
Thanks for sharing your ideas with us. We wish you the best of luck!
Thanks, Sharlana! Back atcha, babe. When's your next release? You'll have to stop in for the Famed One-Question Interview at The Meet and Greet at West of Mars.
How are you doing today? Great thank you! I’m excited to be here. J
Keira: You have a self-published story entitled A Million Wishes. What is that about?
It’s about childhood friends that each go through their own extremely difficult situations and end up falling in love. They strive to overcome their issues and instead, focus on helping others.
Keira: What made you choose that title?
I would love to be in a position to help make deserving people’s wishes come true. Could you imagine being able to make a million wishes come true and in doing that, have your own granted as well? I guess I’m a dreamer lol.
Keira: Please share a particular detail about one of characters, please.
Noah is a Navy SEAL, a total dreamboat, and he is everything you want a strong sexy man to be. Totally the best book boyfriend!
Keira: Please tell us about any future projects you are planning.
I’m working on book two for my Wishes series. It’s called Reflecting on Wishes.
Keira: How many books have you written?
I have one that’s been published, but many others that will forever stay on the shelf.
Keira: We have a special place for unpublished writers in our hearts, here at the Hellfire Herald. So what advice would you give to an unpublished writer?
Never give up, continue writing and honing your craft.
Let’s get personal…
Keira: Are you a reader?
Yes!!! I think that’s part of being a good writer too, broadening your knowledge and seeing how other’s write.
Keira: Do you have a special writing method?
I set up a playlist according to what I’ll be writing. I have a fresh pot of coffee, a pack of gum and log off Facebook. lol
Keira: What do you wear, to write?
Shorts and a t-shirt! I love working from home. J
Keira: Is writing your only talent?
Nope! I can tie a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue, twice, and then untie it. Oh yeah! ;)
Keira: Can you share your blurb with us?
Mikayla Johnson... Growing up in a poor, abusive household after her father is killed in a car wreck; Mikayla had very few things in life that gave her joy. Her writing, the old oak tree, her big brother Callum and her childhood crush Noah. Could he help her heal from her past and give her the family she has always wanted?
Noah Cane... Noah is a Navy seal war hero coming home to the Georgia peach plantation he was raised on to recover from losing his leg in war. His heart was stolen by Mikayla the moment they met under a peach tree where she was stealing peaches off his parent's property. Can she help him heal from his injuries and give him something worth fighting for?
Join Mikayla and Noah on a whimsical journey of love, passion and the discovery of what they were truly meant to do with their lives. Sit back and enjoy their playful banter and intense loving while they show the town of Sugar Creek what it really means to have a heart of gold.
One lucky commenter will win a free e-copy of A Million Wishes.
You can find DeAnna at:
You can find A Million Wishes at: